How Are the 1905 Iowa State Census Cards Organized?

FamilySearch recently updated their 1905 “Iowa State Census, 1905” and it got me to wondering how the cards were microfilmed.

The 1905 Iowa state census was taken differently from most other censuses. Each person’s entry was written on a separate card instead of in a ledger one name after another. The cards are not filmed in order of enumeration as most federal census records are. That makes them more of a challenge to use.

The cards are numbered and one can hopefully be reasonably confident that the numbering was in the order in which people were enumerated.  For urban dwellers, the address was also given. This allows users to know who was in the same household–or at least living in the same location. The problem is finding these people because of the order in which the cards were filmed.

The database of images at FamilySearch is searchable. The city and county (if provided by the informant) searchable, but street addresses in cities are not as they do not appear to have been extracted for the FamilySearch database the accompanies the images.

The card number has been extracted–hopefully this is a good to tell who probably was living in the same household. The only problem is that I didn’t see a way to search based up the card number.

The card:


The database entry:


I’m interested in thoughts users have about using this database.


5 thoughts on “How Are the 1905 Iowa State Census Cards Organized?

  1. My approach to this database is tedious, but it works for me. It helps to figure out they are grouped by first letter of the surname. First I found William G. Lee via the index, noted the information on his card (C43) and image number (1303), and downloaded the image. Then I worked backward as I would with film, looking at each image to see if a card number was close, it was the right surname, the address matched, etc., noting each match by card number and image. When I got to the Ks I knew I was done in that direction, went back to image 1303, and worked forward until I got the the Ms. In this case I gathered up card C44 for Nancy Lee at image 3025 and card C45 for Grace Lee at image 3257. This was a (perhaps un-) reasonably exhaustive search and gave me a few details about the family I didn’t have before, making it worth the effort.

    • Thanks, Susan, for posting your suggestion. That’s a good idea–especially in rural areas. I’ve got a few families in Davenport where that might not be an option–unless I really want to spend the time.

      • I’ll agree, Holstein County was much easier, but those Lees were in Davenport. It’s just a matter of how much you want/need more detail about those people.

        • (It placed William and his family living in the home of his deceased uncle and provided evidence of connection between these Lees and my ancestor.)

    • Susan
      I have just discovered the 1905 census and wonder if it might help me find the residents of record in 12 sections of Cook Township in Sac County. Can you confirm that the record is broken down by township? If that is the case then can you tell me if the census takers followed a pattern that would allow us, with the help of long-time residents and relatives, to zero in on the 12 sections in the SW corner, i.e. 19-22 and 27-34.Is there a place to call for assistance?

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